The 80/20 rule of blogging
Photo by GlossyEye

Back in the 19th century, there lived a very influential Italian economist, by the name of Vilfredo Pareto, whose legacy spans well through out present day. His most notable achievement was the development of, what’s today commonly know as, the Pareto principle or “law of the vital few.” What makes this principle so important is the fact that it provided a bridge between economics and sociology, by showing how, in general, only ~20% of the input is responsible for ~80% of the output in some aspects of our lives.

More clearly, with a minimum amount of effort you can come up with most of your desired results. A few short examples:

  • 20% of the world’s population control 80% of its income.
  • 20% of a company’s workers produce are responsible for 80% of its performance.
  • 20% of the bugs are responsible for 80% of system crashes.
  • 20% of clients are responsible for 80% of sales.
  • 20% of the world’s newspapers are read by 80% of the population.
  • 20% of a city’s streets are responsible for 80% of the traffic.
  • 20% of criminals are responsible for 80% of the total crimes.
  • 20% of the web’s sites produce 80% of its traffic.

And we could go on forever. Just think about learning a new language, after a few months you’ll probably be able to have a conversation with someone in a foreign language, but by no means will be fluent – that takes a lot more effort.

However, keep in mind this is not a general truth, as the 80/20 principle does not apply to all circumstances, by no means. It’s pretty clear, though, that we can learn a great deal from its microeconomics applications and become more productive individuals or … bloggers.

Does Perfectionism And Blogging Mix Well?

Now, I’m pretty spread even on this. I’m a perfectionist by nature. I always strive for excellence in everything I do. I don’t like to post on a blog, code something or finish a design until I’m really, really pleased with it. At the end of the day, everyone’s happy, because I delivered above average work, but when you look back things aren’t so gloomy.

Firstly, there’s the huge amount of time you dedicate to completing a task, and then there’s of course  a somewhat inner perfectionist’s disappointment. This is because you can never deliver something totally flawless – there’s always something better, there’s always someone smarter. Practically the word “perfect” is as abstract as one could possibly be.

Let’s take a look at perfectionism and Pareto from a blogging perspective, though.

A Minimalistic Take On Blogging

Photo by walter*sylvia

  1. “Less is More.” Why use a couple hundred words to make a point, when you can just as well do it over a sentence or two? Of course, an opinion is never valid without lack of arguments to back it up, but people all too often over-complicate things when there’s really no reason to.Don’t stuff up you’re reviews with redundant information, if you don’t believe it’s really relevant or helpful for a potential reader. Don’t add unnecessary figures to your analysis, if you don’t believe it provides a better understanding from behalf of the reader. It’s blogging. It’s supposed to be simple!
  2. Formatting. Effectively use paragraphing formatting, numbered or unordered lists, text formatting (bold to stand out, italic to emphasize, blockquotes for citations, <H3> or <H1> tags for headings and so on) to highlight what’s important and for better readability in your posts.
  3. Focus. Don’t stray off your subjects too much and try to keep things as relevant as possible. The internet is a very big place and provides the medium for one to easily get distracted or influenced. Block all the irrelevant doodles from your head and clear your mind, so that you can continuously have a flow of ideas. Oh, and remeber – don’t stop typing. Write! Write! Write!Quick tip #1: open your dashboard and start writing for no more than 10 minutes. Don’t reference anything, don’t format the text, just write – for now. After that you can come back and revise it. This will stop you from daydreaming and start writing already!
    Quick tip #2: if it’s an extensive post of 1000+ words strong, try to quickly visualize it in your head, from introduction, to body, to conclusions. Write on a piece of paper the headlines, the main ideas behind your biggest points and, most importantly (type it in CAPITALS and make it BIG), what you hope to achieve with your post. Do you want people to leave with a fresh dose of knowledge? Do you want to create awareness over a particular subject? You name it.
  4. An image can speak a thousand words. It’s so easy making a point or instantiating a subject with images. Want to write about how much fun you had during that ski trip in the Alps? Post some photos. Need to do a write-up on your company’s corporate blog? Post some charts, brand logos, relevant imagery and so on. I’ve written more on the subject previously, so reference the post for more info. Much of the same effect can be attained with videos, slides or podcasts.
  5. Advertising. On our network of blogs, about 80% of all our income comes from one source, one advertiser which has only 20% of our inventory reserved. This is called premium advertising. When we realized this, we almost immediately scrapped all the other advertisers. Why? Because the rest of 80% of our ad inventory was making us pennies – cheap CPM and CPC networks. ‘Hey, it’s still money right?‘ No! There’s no need to further disrupt design aesthetics and over all vibe with 2 dime ads.Further more, with your inventory empty you can wait for a potential quality advertiser and attempt to sell a percentage of that inventory at a fair price. It’s hard to do that when the advertiser sees that in the position of his desired ad lies adsense or some other form of low-commission network. And this doesn’t necessarily apply to big scoring advertisers. If something around 80% of your revenue is provided only by an advertiser, you need to seriously think about whether you want or not to keep the other advertisers that make up the rest of 20%.
  6. Distractions. On really serious, niche blogs that pump out valuable content on a regular basis, much of the time reserved to blogging is spent on research. If you also spend part of time goofing around, surfing 20 tabs at the same time, talking on the phone and other interfering activities, your ‘research time,’ and thus post completion time, will greatly increase.To be efficient, keep your working environment as isolated as possible from any distractions. Turn off your TV, phone and even internet connection (oohhhhh! spooky!). Just save your tabs that aid you in your post research and unplugg the damn thing, this way you want be tempted to check out twitter, youtube, RSS reader or any other form of distraction from your work.
  7. Comments. I’ve stressed this countless times before – commenting is one of the most important steps towards building and keeping a popular blog. It’s the first step to community building.Comment on other blogs as well as reply to your own in-house comments addressed to you, in one way or the other, and you’ll be making the first step to greatness. However, again, don’t stray off subjects, don’t go round replying in the comment area with a thousand word analysis or debunking (it’s a lot better if you do it on your own blog – you’ve got a lot more space … and sympathy), because, frankly, no one’s going to read it. You’re wasting everybody’s time.  A bit of etiquette, as a reminder.

Why Perfectionism Can Be a BLESSING!

Photo by freddiemarriage

80% of your output comes from 20% of your input – this is how Pareto’s principle basically works. However, in life only those who step well beyond that 20% margin become truly successful. These are the people that through their hard work and perseverance manage to achieve greatness. They’re the ones who launch successful start-ups, write best-sellers, hit home-runs, win Nobel prizes. They’re the one who work 12 hours a day or more and love every second of it!

Now, those who managed to reach such a level that they can balance both hard work and efficiency are the leader of tomorrow. Blogging was and is meant to be simple, but if you want to make a difference, to rise above the majority (remember, there are millions of blogs out there), you’ll have to present yourself differently and this requires a bit more than 20% of your efforts.

P.S. It’s been SIX months since I’ve last published my last post on LAOB. No, I’m not dead, as one might notice from my regularly updated twitter stream, nor did I ambandoned the blog. I simply went through a combination of professional and personal difficulties, that seem to have gotten straighten out now. Expect the blog to get updated a few times a month from now on. A big thank you to all of you who’ve still kept the blog in your RSS feed, despite the inactivity.

If you enjoyed this post, then you might consider subscribing to our feed via RSS or e-mail. Find out more about subscribing here. Thanks for visiting!

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